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No. 22 Squadron RAF
File:22 Squadron RAF crest.jpg
Active 1 September 1915
Role Search and rescue
Part of Search and Rescue Force
Garrison/HQ RAF Valley plus detached Flights
Motto(s) (French)"Preux et audicieux" (Valiant and Brave)
Equipment Sea King HAR.3
Battle honours Western Front 1916-1918, Somme 1916, Ypres 1917, Hindenburg Line, Channel and North Sea 1939-1941, Mediterranean 1942, Eastern Waters 1942-1944, Burma 1944-1945
On a Torteaux, a Maltese Cross throughout, overall a 'pi' fimbriated

No. 22 Squadron of the Royal Air Force operates the Sea King HAR.3 and HAR.3A at three stations in the southern United Kingdom. The squadron was originally formed in 1915 as an aerial reconnaissance unit of the Royal Flying Corps serving on the Western Front during First World War. Becoming part of the Royal Air Force on its formation in 1918, it was disbanded the following year as part of the post-World War I scaling back of the RAF. During World War II the squadron operated in the torpedo bomber role over the North Sea and then in the Mediterranean and the Far East.



Formed at Fort Grange in 1915 as a reconnaissance unit equipped with BE2c aircraft, the squadron operated in France and Germany during and after the First World War. The squadron went to France with FE2 aircraft but, from 1917, the squadron was equipped with the Bristol F2b also known as the Bristol Fighter or 'Brisfit'. As part of the post-war reduction of the military, the squadron was disbanded in 1919. By the time it was demobilized, it had had 27 flying aces within its ranks, both pilots and observers, including Samuel Frederick Henry Thompson, Alfred Atkey, John Everard Gurdon, William Frederick James Harvey, Ernest Elton, Frank Weare, Carleton Main Clement, Frank George Gibbons, Edwin C. Bromley, Chester Thompson, Hiram Frank Davison, Sydney A. Oades, George William Bulmer, George S. L. Hayward, Stanley Wallage, Frederick Stanton, James Bush, Rothesay Stuart Wortley, William Lewis Wells, Chester Stairs Duffus,[1] John Howard Umney,[2] Josiah Lewis Morgan,[3] and Dennis Waight.[4]


The squadron's second incarnation was as the shadow identity of the Aeroplane Experimental Establishment at Martlesham Heath, Suffolk. For 10 years following this formation in 1923, the squadron was involved in testing new aircraft before they were accepted for service.


The squadron reformed again in 1934 in the torpedo bomber role, flying Vickers Vildebeests and later Bristol Beauforts. In this role, the unit flew sorties over the North Sea from North Coates, Thorney Island, St Eval and Portreath. In April 1941, a pilot of the unit, F/O Kenneth Campbell, was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for a daring attack on the Gneisenau in Brest harbour.

Moving to the Mediterranean in 1942, the unit was posted in North Africa before being moved to the Far East and re-equipping with the Bristol Beaufighter. 22 Squadron continued its anti-shipping role, this time using rockets. The squadron disbanded for the third time a month after war's end.

Search and Rescue

Sea King helicopter of 22 Squadron

Reformed again in 1955, the squadron took on the Search and Rescue role it maintains today. Initially equipped with Westland Whirlwinds, these were later replaced by the Westland Wessex. Finally, in the mid-1990s, the squadron received six newly built Sea King HAR.3A to supplement the Sea King HAR.3 aircraft which replaced the Wessex aircraft.

The squadron HQ is co-located with the SAR Force HQ at RAF Valley on Anglesey, Wales. Detachments of at least two aircraft operate from three stations to provide search and rescue cover in their parts of the country; these are:

A and B Flights operate the Sea King Mk3A. C Flight shares a pool nominally of five Sea King Mk3 aircraft with 203 (R) Sqn, the Operational Conversion Unit.

The squadron was the subject of the BBC documentary series "Helicopter Rescue" broadcast in February 2012.

Notable rescues

  • On 11 November 1962, the FV Jeanne Gougy ran aground and capsized at Land's End, Cornwall. Eight of her twenty crew were rescued by helicopter or breeches buoy. Sergeant Eric Smith was awarded a George Medal for his actions.[5]
  • Boscastle flood of 2004 - The Boscastle flood of 2004 occurred on Monday, 16 August 2004 in the villages of Boscastle and Crackington Haven in Cornwall. The villages suffered extensive damage after flash floods caused by an exceptional amount of rain that fell over the course of eight hours that afternoon. Two Sea Kings from A-Flight at RMB Chivenor, Rescue's 169 and 170, were called and help to rescue some of the 100 people who were airlifted out.

Honours and awards

In addition to the battle honours listed above (which are emblazoned on the Squadron Standard), the squadron has been granted the following battle honours: Cambrai 1917, Somme 1918, Lys, Amiens, France and Low Countries 1940, Invasion Ports 1940, Biscay Ports 1940-1941.

Flying Officer Kenneth Campbell was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for executing a torpedo attack on the German battleship Gneisenau in Brest harbour. Despite atrocious weather having prevented the other aircraft in the mission from reaching the harbour and, with virtually no chance of pulling out of the harbour, Campbell pressed home his attack and badly damaged the ship, being shot down in the process. He and his crew were buried with full military honours by the Germans in the cemetery at Brest.

RAF Sea King units

Notable servicemen

Prince William has been serving in the squadron since 2010.

See also



  1. Retrieved 27 January 2010.
  2. Retrieved 20 March 2010.
  3. Retrieved 10 February 2011.
  4. Retrieved 4 March 2011.
  5. "Sergeant Eric Smith GM". Cudham: Kelsey Publishing. p. p33. ISSN 0143-7240. 


  • Barker, Ralph The Ship-Busters: The Story of the R.A.F. Torpedo-Bombers. London, UK: Chatto & Windus Ltd., 1957. ISBN 978-1-906502-29-4.
  • Halley, James J. Famous Maritime Squadrons of the RAF, Volume 1. Windsor, Berkshire, UK: Hylton Lacy Publishers Ltd., 1973. ISBN 0-85064-101-2.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth, 1918-1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
  • Harvey, William Frederick James. 'Pi' in the Sky: History of No.22 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps and the War of 1914-18. Colin Huston, 1971. ISBN 0-9501868-0-5.
  • Jefford, Wing Commander C.G., MBE,BA,RAF (Retd). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury: Airlife Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Moyes, Philip J.R. Bomber Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1964 (new edition 1976). ISBN 0-354-01027-1.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Coastal, Support and Special Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Jane's Publishing Company Ltd., 1982. ISBN 0-7106-0187-5.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1969 (new edition 1976, reprinted 1978). ISBN 0-354-01028-X.

External links

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